Most companies approach hiring software developers from a talent-first perspective. Does a candidate have the right coding language and programming experience to be successful in a role?
A developer’s technical skills are first and foremost their most important qualification. Vetting a software developer largely involves verifying their ability to code by checking their GitHub profile, using a coding challenge, or doing a code review. However, outside of a person’s technical ability, it’s important to make sure someone is the right fit. Research by Robert Half found that when new hires fail, 29% of the time it’s due to “interpersonal issues”— “either their soft skills weren’t up to par, or they caused conflict with colleagues or customers.”
The job interview provides an opportunity to assess a candidate’s soft skills outside of a technical challenge. Ask these questions to learn more about a software developer and make sure they’re the right fit for your organization.
In previous projects, have you ever run into any obstacles, and how did you handle them?
Bad communication, inadequate testing, and an unrealistic schedule are among the most common problems in the software development process. It’s likely that your new developer will face some kind of hurdle while working at your organization. Are they equipped to handle the stress that comes with troubleshooting?
“Most software development projects have hurdles of some kind, so a developer that has trouble identifying an obstacle with their previous project may raise a potential red flag. If you decide to hire a software developer, you need to know how they are able to overcome problems to get the job done and within the deadline,” explains CodeMentor. Find out from their previous experience what their approach is to coordinating a response when something comes up.
Can you explain what x developer term is in plain English to someone with no tech experience?
Developers interface tech novices all the time, from senior leadership to customers to other teams within the company. Can a candidate communicate effectively with their non-tech colleagues in sales, marketing, HR, and accounting? “Ask candidates to expound on a topic all web developers should be familiar with, and look for their ability to speak using non-jargony terms. Here are some concepts to choose from: CSS, PHP, plug-ins, responsive design, W3C, version control or microservice architecture,” suggests Robert Half. A person should be able to explain what it is they do in accessible terms to help customers and key stakeholders feel included.
Tell us about a time you had a disagreement over a project.
One hiring manager reports that disagreement is healthy – as long as it’s handled respectfully. “Interpersonal skills and conflict resolution often differentiate good developers from great, well-rounded engineers. I look for opinionated engineers that use data and well-reasoned arguments to fight for what they believe in but who also know when to save the fight for another day,” says Jason Carlson from LiquidPlanner in Forbes. This question can help your team push for people who are driven to innovate, but not so dogmatic that it prevents them from finishing a project on time.
Tell us about a professional or personal project you worked on. What did you enjoy about it? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?
This question gives candidates a chance to really shine. Everyone likes to talk about something they’re really passionate about: and discovering a candidate’s passion can tell you how to best set them up for success in your organization. Maybe they describe working with a team, or completing a project that’s code-heavy. Look for variables they bring up that can tell you whether they’ll be successful in your company setting. There’s no right answer, except perhaps if someone tells you they don’t have any hobbies or find joy in personal projects.
Are there any websites or apps that annoy you? What do you dislike about them?
A web developer who’s aware of the current market can bring that background to help your team innovate and stay competitive. A good answer to this question will provide a real solution to a practical issue, such as a way to debug an iOS app or to improve load times on a slower webpage. It shows engagement with a broader body of work and a level of self-awareness of the developer’s problem-solving abilities.
Looking to hire the best developer talent? Get started by speaking to the experts at JetCake.